Are You Delivering the Most Important Reason Listeners Choose Your Station?

Are You Delivering the Most Important Reason Listeners Choose Your Station?

by Tracy Johnson

Why do listeners choose your station? Do you know the most important reason listeners choose you over others? If you know the answer to that question, you’re equipped to program to it and earn more fans.

There’s no doubt that one of the most important things for a radio personality is a great sense of humor. In fact, being funny is the most important characteristic of a performer. But listeners don’t choose stations based on characteristics. There’s a higher level, a more strategic level, that affects their choices.

The Most Important Reason Listeners Choose Favorite Stations

The single most important reason listeners make a choice is based on mood. In an enlightening and powerful research project, Strategic Solutions Research and Alan Burns & Associates combined to determine whether listeners felt their favorite radios station understood their lives. The theory was that brands that understand their audience would likely be more connected emotionally.

One of the most interesting discoveries was the reason listeners tune in to their favorite station.


Notice how the top answer is an emotional response. 90% either strongly or somewhat agree that they tune in “to escape or improve my mood.” And when you isolate the responses to Strongly Agree, that response is 25% higher than the #2 response. That’s huge.

Most Important Reason for Heaviest Users of Radio

Breaking it down another way, the project compares those who listen to radio the most, defined in this chart by Heavy TSL listeners.

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This is even more impressive. Two-thirds of heavy TSL users Strongly Agree that they use the radio for the mood. This information should have a serious and profound impact on how you program your station.

What’s Your Mood?

The single most important thing your station must have is a mood. What’s it for? And when listeners tune in, do you deliver that mood every single time?

Having a station vision should include a clear mood goal. Use that as a filter to channel all content choices. It should affect how your station is produced, imaged and how personalities sound. It’ll affect what you talk about, and more importantly, how you talk about it.

Once the mood is defined, how will you communicate it to your audience? The audience is choosing stations by mood. So doesn’t it make more sense to position and promote the mood, using your elements (music, features, etc.) as a demonstration of that mood? Yet station after station invests promo time talking about the mix of music or how many songs in a row they play. That seems counter-productive to how the audience is choosing and using stations.


We see this all the time. When listeners are asked how they choose a station, they tell you that they have a station to relax to, another that gets them up and moving and another for information. Or one to make them laugh and make them feel good. If you can win a clearly defined mood position, you’re on a path to win the loyalty of the audience by appealing to their heart.

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Listen carefully to your station. What is the mood? Is it what you have in mind? If you’d like help defining and building an image for a mood, let me know. I’d love to help.


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